Why Does This Pint-Sized Woman Scare Kim Jong-Un?
[su_r_sky_ad]It might have a little something to do with truth-telling about what really goes on in the Pudgy But Sturdy Leader’s gulag nation:
What does a nuclear power with the fifth largest army in the world have to fear from a pint-sized university student in a pink frock? A great deal, apparently. On 31 January 2015, a North Korean government-run website posted an 18-minute video titled The Human Rights Propaganda Puppet, Yeon-mi Park, which denounced the charismatic 21-year-old defector. It was the latest attack in a smear campaign aimed at silencing Yeon-mi, a human rights activist and outspoken critic of the world’s most repressive and secretive regime.
Attacks on prominent North Korean defectors are nothing new. These individuals regularly endure charges that they lie and exaggerate. Occasionally there are death threats. …
“One of the very few growing industries in North Korea is this operation of trying to compromise defectors and witnesses,” says Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. The smears and threats have ramped up in the wake of a UN report documenting crimes against humanity in North Korea and recommending that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court. The UN findings were based on the testimony of more than 300 defectors who painted a picture of institutionalised cruelty within the regime, including mass incarceration in forced labour camps. …
Yeon-mi did not testify before the UN inquiry, but became a YouTube sensation last autumn, following her emotional speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin. Looking like a fragile porcelain doll dressed in a flowing pink hanbok (traditional Korean dress), Yeon-mi took the podium and, fighting to keep her composure, told a harrowing and heartbreaking story: “North Korea is an unimaginable country,” she began in halting English. “We aren’t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want.”
She said she believed the dictator could hear her thoughts, and she described the hideous punishments meted out to those who broke the rules or expressed doubt about the regime. When she was nine years old she saw her friend’s mother publicly executed for a minor infraction. When she was 13, she fled into China, only to see her mother raped by a human trafficker. Her father later died in China, where she buried his ashes in secret. “I couldn’t even cry,” she said. “I was afraid to be sent back to North Korea.”
Eventually Yeon-mi and her mother escaped into Mongolia by walking and crawling across the frozen Gobi desert, following the stars north to freedom. By the time Yeon-mi had finished with a plea to “shed light on the darkest place in the world”, the whole audience was in tears and on its feet.